Suffolk District and Lodge Events
As many may know it’s not an easy job to maintain the district online calendar as well as give the Lodges equal time and place and assure that all get the exposure and placement they need and deserve. These days I have less and less time to attend to these items. I have looked into and investigated several options for the members of the district to use to convey their lodge’s events and happenings.
There are several good mobile apps that will work but I have found that each has their limitations and issues. One can connect to MORI which is very helpful, however the interface and controls leaves much to be desired, other also have their faults but it comes down to which will work best for our needs as a whole. Using the app that will connect with MORI is fantastic for sending dues reminders and possibly online payments to members of you Lodge but the calendar and look and feel are not functional across the whole ecosystem as of yet.
I have settled on BAND as the app to sync the District Calendar with. It is free for up to 1000 users so no cost. It offers several advantages over other mobile apps and syncs well with the least amount of manual interaction by the admins.
Some have asked why can’t we just use Facebook? The answer is simple really, Although almost everyone is on the internet, not all are or will be on Facebook, so we cannot limit to this platform. BAND is a free mobile and Desktop app. It is closed to all but who are invited and there is less “noise” to deal with as on public social media sites. Yes there are the occasional ads that end up in the feed but so far they are innocuous and always in the background when they appear, which is infrequently. Its really the cost of using a “free” app.
So now all is set up and this is the way it works. Starting in November no events will be added directly to the District Calendar (with few exceptions), all events that need to be published should be input on the BAND app District Calendar. These are sync’d with the suffolkmasons.com events calendar, once per day. The sync will add all new events up to 3 months in advance to the District Calendar, in a pending review state. This is a temporary setting until those that post get the hang of it. After that all events posted will get added with out manual intervention. I am hoping to have that set by January 2019.
As in a previous post the events should meet a certain criteria before being posted. What should not be posted on the District BAND is:
- Stated Communications (unless there is a special guest or program that would be of interest to the District as a whole)
- There is a Lodge page for every Lodge that states the days that the Lodge meets and its redundant and clutters the calendar to add these to the main events calendar. The good news is if you sign up for the District Band, work with the Lodge and create your own BAND for the Lodge. Adding events to your Lodge’s BAND is a one click to add it to the District BAND.
- Non-Masonic events – Self explanatory really. In order to assure the District Calendar does not become unwieldy or unusable, please only post Masonic events. If your not sure if you should post it, please do ask.
That’s pretty much the limit really. So please post those fundraisers and special Lodge events. I ask that you check the suffolkmasons.com calendar prior to posting an event. Events like DDGM visits and alike I will have posted already. So if it’s there already, don’t re-post. If a correction is needed or a date change, etc. please contact the webmasters to get it fixed. I think it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway.
Only duly obligated Masons are to be invited to join the BAND. Only Post those events and items relevant to the District, not Lodge only items (explained above). Always remember your obligations when on any Social Media, including the BAND or the District Website.
OK so what features does this BAND app offer. Well first and foremost it is a mobile application available on iPhone and Android (sorry Microsoft phones..no dice). It’s been around for a few years now so it’s stable. Its relatively easy to navigate. Additionally it offers:
- RSVPs for events – add RSVP when adding and event and much like FB it will tract the yes, maybe and no’s of the members who respond. One word of just being polite, I was always told to respond to RSVPs ASAP so the host knows who to expect. It is and was considered rude to receive an RSVP invitation and not answer it. I think the same applies to online invites…just saying.
- Attendance- you can ask to take attendance at a function or meeting and all members who say they will be there, self check in at time of event.
- Sign up – have tasks that needs volunteers? You can add an post and ask for volunteers to sign up for sign up for specific tasks at specific times. Handy feature to use if you Lodge is hosting and event and need a setup or cleanup crew etc.
- Mobile phone notifications – If you turn on notifications, new events or events you have RSVP’d to will show on your screen in advance. Events can also be added to your mobile calendar on iPhone (apple calendar) or Android calendar. So if you RSVP and don’t want to forget you can add the event to your phones calendar to remind you. However BAND will also remind you by notification and/or by email if you so choose.
- Additional Guests – Having and event that is open to the public? When posting set allow additional guest and those replying can add guests that are no BAND members to the head count. Also handy.
- Private and Group chat rooms – Need to chat with one member to get some info? Or maybe you need to chat with a small group, like a group of Masters and Wardens for example. Anyone can create a group chat to do just that. Or shoot a message to one member privately.
- Invite members – all who are invite can in tun invite others. The only rule is they must be a Mason in good standing. Of course all members who do join are asked to add their Lodge name and number to their profile so anyone who is a member can see who they are at a glance.
- To-do Lists – add to-do lists for your members as well. Handy for leaders of the Lodge’s and the District as a tool to manage tasks.
- Plus much more and the Developers/Creators are promising much more coming soon.
It’s of course not perfect but what really ever is? I am more then willing to come to a Lodge to explain the workings of the app and how to on all the items above. I can even provide a screen and projector if need be.
The fact is Brothers we are in the 21st century and we need to reach out to as many as we can first who are already members, to get them or keep them active and involved as well as attract good men who would be our Brothers in the future and we must use all the tools available to us.